Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 264-271
ISBN: 978-84-09-34549-6
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2021.0117
Conference name: 14th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 8-9 November, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Technical schools, especially those related with civil engineering, face the problem of a reduction of technological vocations in the last years. One of the reasons of this problem is that society, and in particular high school students, are not aware of the fundamental contribution of civil engineers to modern societies and human development, the creative nature of these studies and the almost full employment that civil engineering graduates enjoy. Studies show that an early STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) exposition should be considered in high school in order to promote engineering vocations [1]. Although there are several experiences focused on exposing high schools' students to a specific discipline, see for example [2], here a novel approach is taken as in this case university students, in a service-learning setting, present their final degree work (as a representative exponent of civil engineering studies) to high school students. These presentations are complemented with a public display of the final degree works (in a poster format) in one of the libraries of the city of Madrid (Spain).

In this work, six presentations were made by university students to sixty-nine high school students in total. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, these presentations were carried out online in a synchronous way. Afterwards a Liker type questionnaire was answered by high school students and, finally, university students answered an open questionnaire on how they had lived the experience.

The research questions we want to address are the following:
1. How effective is the presentation of their final degree work from university students to high school students in promoting engineering vocations?
2. How effective is the presentation of their final degree work from university students to high school students in improving self-esteem and sense of accomplishment in university students?

The results showed a great acceptance of the activity among high school students. A large majority affirmed that the activity has allowed them to learn more about civil engineering and a small but significant percentage expressed a desire to study it in the future. In turn, university students have expressed a high degree of satisfaction, improving their own self-perception as an engineer. All of them would recommend participating in this activity to their colleagues.

Allowing university students to present their final degree projects to high school students favours both groups. College students improve their own self-perception as engineers while high school students are exposed to motivating accomplishments of STEM studies. This methodology is easily implementable and shows a promising path of collaboration between secondary schools and technical universities.

[1] R. H. Tai, C.Q. Liu, A. V. Maltese, and X. Fan. "Planning early for careers in science.", Science, vol 312, no. 5777, pp. 1143-1144, May 2006
[2] J. Laut, T. Bartolini, and M. Porfiri. "Bioinspiring an interest in STEM.", IEEE transactions on education, vol 58, no. 1, pp. 48-55, 2014
Learning-service, stem vocations, peer review.